Saturday, January 19, 2008

I had forgotten that I have a mantra.

So thanks for the reminder, Jer. It's a good one. The mantra, that is.

I remember feeling really strongly about that when I worked on campus (is that what makes it a mantra?) (feeling strongly about it, not working on campus), and I remember that those who knew me well could tell when I was really FEELING that mantra. One time, after I spoke, er, strongly on the phone to someone who I felt qualified for the second half of the mantra, one of my coworkers popped his head in from the back room and said, "Remind me never to get you mad at me." And I remember being a little proud, and a little ashamed.

And I've been thinking about that recently, because in my new job as a manager there are moments when I am tempted to speak strongly to people who do dumb things. And yet - I am learning that getting mad and speaking strongly like I have done in the past is not professional. OK, DUH maybe?? I witnessed a situation recently in which I felt that a person in authority at work had every reason to speak strongly, angrily strongly, to someone, and yet - she didn't. She dealt with the situation, everyone knew that she was in charge, but she didn't use anger to take care of it. I was very impressed.

And as I analyze that in light of situations in which I might be tempted to use my "mean and impatient voice," I think my "take away" lesson is that losing self-control, or even pretending to, to make an impression, which is often what I used to do, is not being professional, is not being a true adult. It really is a way to try to manipulate people into doing what you want so that you won't...won't what? What kind of threats are we making when we do that? And what makes us think it's acceptable to treat people like that?

It reminds me of another conversation I had recently with a friend who is a teacher. We were talking about discipline in the classroom, which was always really hard for me. In my mind, it has to do with authority, and with acknowledging and knowing the bounds of your own authority. There were times during that first and only (so far) year as a public school teacher when I wasn't sure how to deal with a given situation because I wasn't sure what I was allowed to do - I didn't know how far my authority went. I figured out some parts of that as a teacher, and now I find that I'm figuring out some of the same sorts of things in this job as a manager - what things are my call, and what things I need to escalate. It's really been an interesting process for me.

AND - same topic - I've been reading these books the last two days that my sis and bro-in-law gave me for Christmas. I've read two in the series so far, and I found that I was getting annoyed at some of the kids in the book because they were NOT going to the adults about what was going on, and so they were getting more and more buried in trouble that was not their fault. I felt like if they had just gone to the adults, and explained, then the adults would have been on their side, the kids wouldn't have gotten in trouble, and things would have gone more smoothly. It was a little bit of a shock to me when I realized that that was what I was feeling - what's with me and authority??

And wow - this is a little more serious than I've been on here lately, or ever, maybe :) , but my (sometimes excessive?) respect for authority is something that I've talked about with friends before, and thought about A LOT, and obviously there have been some things recently that have brought it to mind. And I'd like to get to the bottom of it, but maybe not right now, when it's this late, and I've been spending probably too much time with some good friends today. Yes, I DID leave my house. I walked to the 7-11 behind my apartment to get another gallon of milk so I could eat more Cheerios. So there.

1 comment:

KATE said...

I'm glad you went to the 7-11 for milk. Good job!